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Coromal Elements 542

words & photos - Malcolm Street
Boasting all the features of its bigger brothers but with few compromises, this single-axle budget-priced van lacks for little

 

WE LIKED:
>> Weight, or lack thereof
>> L-shaped lounge
>> Radio/CD player and 12V fuse location
>> Spacious front tunnel boot

WE WOULD HAVE LIKED:
>> Powerpoint near table
>> More ceiling lights
>> Slightly larger kitchen… and smaller bathroom


Perth-based Coromal Caravans is a major manufacturer in the Australian caravan industry but it’s also a long way from the east coast, particularly Melbourne where many van manufacturers are based.

That means, apart from anything else, that Coromal caravans can look a bit different from most other vans.

Coromal manufactures a wide range of caravans, pop-tops and camper trailers but with the business struggling slightly in recent times, it has introduced a budget range of vans called Elements to attract new buyers (the company is also about to introduce a new, budget camper predominately manufactured in China).

Our review Elements, the 542 model, came from Brisbane’s City Caravan Centre and, not surprisingly, dealer principal Mark Glencross was quite enthusiastic about the new range.

“I reckon the Elements range offers many of the Coromal features at a very affordable price,” he said. “It’s a good package for these economic times.”

Caravans can have some pretty odd names but the 542’s is quite relevant – it refers to the external length of 5.42m (17ft 9in) which, while not being overly long, offers reasonable flexibility with the layout.

WOOD IF IT COULD

Stepping in through the front entry door reveals the bedroom to the left (front), an L-shaped dinette on the nearside, a kitchen across the way and a bathroom at the rear.

Coromal has resisted the temptation to change the standard ‘timber’ look, so the interior has vinyl-wrapped cabinetry which doesn’t look too bad with the lighter coloured walls and ceiling.

All the drawers and overhead lockers have ‘up and down’ handles which are great for those with stiff or arthritic fingers.

LED lights are installed throughout this basic level van, although there are a limited number of fittings.

Above the kitchen, a Four Seasons hatch allows fresh air to circulate while, a bit further forward, a Dometic air-conditioner can kick into gear when things get warmer.

All the windows come with both full and net curtains, except the kitchen and bathroom windows which have Venetian blinds.

BUSY KITCHEN

The kitchen is a busy place, mostly because of its length rather than anything else. Sitting side-by-side are the stainless steel sink and drainer, Smev four-burner cooktop/grill/oven and the 150 litre Dometic fridge with microwave oven above.

That doesn’t leave a great deal of room for bench space; in fact, the only bench space is the top of a cupboard at the bedroom end of the kitchen.

There is, however, a reasonable amount of general storage with three overhead lockers, one cupboard, two drawers – one big and one small – and two floor lockers.

In the forward locker is something normally found in the front boot – a 12V fuse box – and the hot water switch is on the outside of that same locker.

The battery charger and other electrics are in the cupboard below and a radio/CD player is mounted on the panel that faces into the bedroom. These are not very common locations for these devices, but they’re reasonably easy to get at.

Opposite the kitchen, the L-shaped lounge works well in a van of this length, mainly because it’s easy to get in and out of – even with the fixed single-pole table.

Above the dinette are three overhead lockers but only one reading light. A wire basket drawer at the end of the lounge creates easily-accessible under-seat storage.

BIG BATHROOM

In days of yore, you would never find a full-width bathroom in a van the size of the Elements 542, but times have changed and this van sports a relatively sizeable ensuite.

A separate shower cubicle occupies the nearside corner while a Dometic cassette toilet occupies the other side.

With a variable depth, two cupboards and a wash basin, the vanity cabinet takes up the rest of the rear wall and there’s a large wall mirror above.

Additional features include towel rails and rings, plus a wall-mounted cupboard in the only free corner.

Up front, the island bed with innerspring mattress measures 1.83 x 1.52m (6 x 5ft) and sits on a posture slat bed base.

Lifting the base reveals an open storage area with only the 100Ah battery occupying a nominal bit of space. It also gives access to the front tunnel boot, as do the lower doors on either side of the bed.

Behind the bed is an impressive bedhead of overhead lockers, side wardrobes and bedside shelves, rather than bedside cabinets. With this set-up, the entry door is almost in the bedroom and while some caravanners won’t like that, it doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem to me.

LOOKS DON’T DECEIVE

From the outside, the 542 appears to be a traditional Coromal van. It comes with a DuraGal 100 x 50mm (4x2in) box section chassis and drawbar.

The undercarriage has Coromal’s Ezy Tow independent suspension – a set-up which comes with leaf springs and a variant of a trailing arm setup, as well as 15in wheels. 

Mounted fore and aft of the axle are the 60 litre water tanks and both are protected by a sheet of aluminium cladding.

Quick-drop corner stabilisers are fitted and the drawbar is a conventional affair with ball coupling, jockey wheel, handbrake and two gas bottles.

Like all Coromal caravans, the Elements versions are insulated, have aluminium cladding and an extruded aluminium frame to which the internal lining is bonded and riveted.

There isn’t a conventional front boot; instead, a good-sized tunnel boot with bin doors on both sides can be used for hoses, power cord and other ‘essentials’ such as golf clubs and fishing rods.

In the weight department, the 542 comes in well under 2000kg fully loaded, making it eminently suitable for towing by a wide range of tow vehicles.

VERDICT

The Coromal Elements range is very aptly named. Coromal has retained all the basic elements of its more expensive designs, with few compromises.

In addition, the weight has been kept down so the van is towable by something that might already be in the home garage.

COROMAL ELEMENTS 542

Overall length: 7.0m (23ft) 
External length: 5.4m (17ft 9in)
External width: 2.43m (8ft)
External height: 2.92m (9ft 7in)
Interior height: 1.98m (6ft 6in)
Tare: 1610kg
ATM: 1910kg 
Ball weight: 170kg 
Frame/body: Aluminium
Chassis: DuraGal Steel
Suspension: lead springs, independent
Cooktop: Smev four-burner/grill/oven
Fridge: Dometic RM 2555 150 litre
Microwave oven: Daewoo 
Shower: Separate cubicle
Toilet: Dometic
Lighting: 12V LED
Gas supply: 2 x 9kg
Hot water: Truma 14 litre
Fresh water tank: 2 x 60 litre
Price: $46,052 (on road Qld) 
Supplied by: City Caravan Centre, Loganholme, Qld
More info: Coromal Caravans

 

To comment on this article click here Published : Thursday, 23 May 2013
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